Nearly asleep in bed last night, I stifled a laugh as Violet was beside me. Jamie was watching a video I had seen earlier that day. “What?” Jamie asked, “What are you laughing at?”
“That video”, I whispered. “It’s ridiculous”.
The video that I’m talking about is the ‘stranger danger, you’re kids are going to get kidnapped video’.
In the video, parents are asked if a stranger can approach their child to see how the child will react, and in the video, the kids happily went off with the man with a puppy.
Why We Don’t Say ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’
Those words don’t come out of my mouth often for Olivia and Violet. I mean, they talk to strangers on a daily basis. They greet the UPS guy at the door, they’ll ask a Dad at the park to push them without hesitation, they’ll stop someone passing by our house as we play outside to pet their puppy. If they’re ever in trouble, and they can’t find us, we’ve always mentioned the importance of finding help (and in these cases, it’s likely going to be a stranger). In that situation, we’ve taught them to find a Mom, with kids.
I don’t feel like preaching the danger of strangers works because it’s those strangers that are likely going to help the children if they get into a situation where assistance is required. Here in Canada, child abductions by strangers are rare.
I am confident that Olivia (5) would talk to the stranger, pet his dog, maybe ask for a push on the swing. It’s these strangers that are part of our community, these strangers that are the parents of children in her school, these strangers often have something valuable to share. Talking to strangers? That’s fine. Leaving with strangers? We teach them that’s not fine, from a very early age.
The video? I feel like it’s misleading – and it’s insulting and it’s harmful to parents that are already to worried to let their children play in the front yard alone, to walk to the park, or to have their first solo journey around the block. Strangers in general aren’t the danger, it’s the blanket assumption that are all strangers are dangerous that’s the danger – and failing to teach our children to ‘follow their instincts’ and determine which strangers actually pose a threat.